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The Legacy Users You Might Meet in Enterprise Software Heaven

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One of the fundamental truths of IT is that eventually, every piece of software gets old. Growing businesses are always updating their software, whether it’s outdated customer-relationship management or an enterprise resource-planning product.

Company have found it extremely difficult to get users to adapt to new software when it inevitably arrives. So, in the same way that IT teams refer to aging software applications as "legacy systems," some have begun referring to uninitiated employees as “legacy users” due to their attachment to obsolete software.

To optimize the return on investment in new software, develop a strategy to efficiently orient these legacy employees. Here's an overview of the three types of users that the software team will encounter and tips on how to leverage their influence:

Related: The Wisdom Behind Making Workplace Apps Easy to Use

1. The Champions of Change.

By implementing a new enterprise software system, your business is investing in a streamlined, more effective way of managing its technology. There’s a ton to be excited about, and the air of expectation won't be confined just to the IT crew.

The early adopters of your company, call them the "champions of change,” are your greatest initial allies. These tech-savvy employees are big fans of working smarter, not harder, and they know all too well the shortcomings of the existing software setup. But excitement alone won’t affect your adoption rates.

By definition, the champions of change are already on your side. To receive the most from their passion, be sure you’re not just preaching to the choir. Try to place an emphasis on their importance to the software implementation strategy. Let them know that their efforts are valued.

When possible, give these champions early access to the new software to learn how it could be improved. Their perspective can lead to a better user experience, and their concerns can let you address potential issues. If they feel like they’re at the vanguard of your company’s technological progress, they will make a larger effort to get co-workers on board.

Related: 4 Steps to Ace an Early-Adopter Culture

2. The all-out resistors.

Countering the optimism of champions of change are the “all-out resistors.” These employees aren’t great at learning how to use new technology and are in a routine with the system they’re already used to. They will resist any and all changes to their familiar daily workflows, and a slight interface change will frustrate them.

The resistors are the employees that you’ll need to pay the most attention to. But while they can be the most destructive players during a new implementation project, they can also serve as a constructive role if you take the correct approach.

What if, in the process of introducing a new piece of enterprise software, you could sway just a few of these users to embrace the software?

It might take extra time and resources to get these types on board, but a converted resistor could prove even more effective than a champion of change. To sway the resistors, take the time to educate them with webinars, tutorials and materials that are audience-friendly. By having IT professionals physically on-site to answer questions and explain software applications, resistors will be more likely to embrace the system.

Throughout the teaching process, emphasize how the new software will make their life easier. Even if it takes them time to learn your new software, ease of use is a cause that they can immediately rally behind.

Related: Customers Are Still Slow to Adopt Innovative New Tech. Why the Lag?

The potential ambassadors.

While the champions and resistors are outliers, a majority of employees will lie somewhere in the middle. They won’t jump for joy at the chance of learning a new system, but they will be open to it. These ambassadors will be easy to sway if you approach them correctly but can also turn into resistors if you neglect to address their needs.

By recruiting the champions of change to your cause and effectively swaying the minds of all-out resistors, other employees have proof ofhow efficient your new system will be.

Partnering up employees from each separate group can help to build adoption momentum. Hearing a colleague discuss the benefits of the new system is often more convincing than listening to a consultant. By connecting employees with fellow colleagues who have already been convinced of the project’s value, hesitant staffers might approach the new system with optimism instead of concern.

Since this is your largest employee group, use every tool at your disposal to win them over. Leverage the educational tools and software changes you’ve already developed.

To properly categorize employees as champions, resistors or ambassadors, do an initial IT audit.

Create a questionnaire that aims to assess the level of tech savvy and likelihood of adopting new software. Ask users about how many apps they use on a daily basis or find out what some of their favorite websites are. After asking direct questions to individual users, IT teams can create profiles and categorize each user into an archetype. A survey will lead to a better understanding of the kind of software that appeals to team sensibilities.

Until users are convinced that their new tools are more efficient and easy to use than what came before, problems will persist no matter how effective the software. But by analyzing end users and with the proper planning, any business can turn a user adoption nightmare into a resounding success story.

Related: Convincing Naysayers to Adopt New Technology

Himanshu Sareen

Written By

Himanshu Sareen is the CEO of Icreon Tech, a global IT consultancy delivering business solutions and custom applications. Sareen is responsible for the strategic and overall business development of Icreon and has grown to become a leading IT consultancy in its space working with some of the world’s largest and most influential brands, including National Geographic Channel, Fox, PepsiCo, Nokia Siemens Networks and more.